Monday, June 24, 2024

Skillet’s John Cooper Talks Faith, Family Vacations And Staying In Shape On The Road

Multi- Platinum rock band Skillet has been rocking stages across the world for nearly three decades. Both secular and spiritual crowds have taken to the alt rock band, which has always kept its faith at the center of its music. 

Earlier this year the band released DOMINION: DAY OF DESTINY (DELUXE EDITION) which is the companion to DOMINION, one of the highest charting rock and metal albums of 2022 with five additional songs for the die-hard Skillet fans.

Skillet's John Copper Talks Faith and Family Vacations
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

The band has just completed their highly successful “Rock Resurrection Tour” with Theory of a Deadman. Next the band will head oversees for their spring 2023 European “Day of Destiny Tour.”  Embarking on a 21-city trek, the tour will kick off April 14 in Manchester, UK, and feature opening acts Like A Storm and Eva Under Fire.

The tour will run through May 14 and hit major European markets including London, Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Zurich, Milan and Prague. Tickets can be purchased here with VIP upgrades available.

We caught up with singer John Cooper somewhere on the high seas to talk about ShipRocked, what touring with his kids was like, his faith & what he does to stay in shape on the road. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Was this your first ShipRocked?

It was my first one. I had a great time. I heard from everybody it’s like a family and it’s as advertised. It’s a community. The people attending are the same people each year. It was great fun. 

Everywhere I go, to every rock show now, I see ShipRockers. 

Oh, absolutely. That’s how I heard about ShipRocked because people come into shows with ShipRocked shirts and I’m like, do you guys travel and follow this ShipRocked band? I thought it was like the Deadheads or something. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

You’re touring with Theory of a Deadman through the end of March. What are some of the cities you are excited to be visiting?

We’re glad to be going back out with Theory. Tyler and I were talking and we think we last toured together in 2012, but can’t quite remember. I’m excited because we’re going to the Northeast, which Skillet doesn’t do a ton of. I’m excited to be in some of those places where we haven’t been in a long time, like Bangor, Maine and Jersey, places like that. I know that sounds silly, but we don’t go there enough. 

You’re from Tennessee. Do you guys still live there?

No, we actually live in Wisconsin. My wife is from Wisconsin. Nashville is great, but we like the idea of not being right in the center where everywhere we’d go, it’d be all music business. My wife, for people who don’t know, plays guitar in Skillet and she’s from Wisconsin, so I married into Wisconsin.

What city?

Kenosha.

What is a perfect day in Kenosha like?

A perfect day in Kenosha is around, I would say, mid-July. That’s when the weather is getting really, really nice. Everybody in Wisconsin gets very excited for summer because it doesn’t last long. So everybody gets out their Harleys because it’s a big Harley town. I do not have a Harley, but everyone else does apparently. Everybody’s down by the lake. We live on Lake Michigan. We call it the beach, but it’s the lake. Grilling out is fun. I love it.

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

You have always been really open about your faith in your music. Why is that so important to you after all these years?

Singing about faith in music is important to me because, if I’ve understood music correctly, people write about what they’re passionate about. You saw the movie Walk The Line, the Johnny Cash film with Joaquin Phoenix, right? An amazing film. Do you remember the beginning when he’s first trying to get his gig and he’s playing for the guy at Sun Studios and he was singing old gospel songs. The guy’s like, I don’t want to hear this. 

If you had three minutes to tell the world what you wanna say, what would it be? I think that’s why we write about love, romance, good days and bad days and things. For me, my faith just comes through in that because it’s something I feel passionate about and it gives me hope. 

Music was there for me in my hard times growing up. My mom died from cancer when I had just turned 15. Music was the thing. I’m going to date myself, but there was no internet, right? We weren’t texting our friends. All we had was music and headphones with a Walkman. Music was really there for me. I try to do that in my music for other people, if I can.

Skillet's John Copper Talks Faith and Family Vacations
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

You mentioned you’re married to the band, literally. That has to be hard. With as prevalent as social media is now, how do you pick what you share about your personal life and experiences versus what you hold back? 

I think that I’ve always been a pretty transparent person in my music, even before the internet, and I try to be very transparent with fans now. Some people think that the goal is just to be authentic no matter what and I think if I could say something philosophically, if you don’t mind, I’m not sure that’s the best thing for society because now we celebrate terrible things. 

We celebrate you if you’re authentic enough to do terrible things. I think having some constraints in your life, some kind of guiding ethos, is a really important thing so you don’t end up celebrating stuff you shouldn’t celebrate. If you can be transparent enough to say, I did something crappy, this is a part of me that I do not like and I want to change, I think that can be positive. 

People do that maybe if they’re in recovery. That’s a good example if someone says – “I’m in recovery and I used to do this, but I’m trying to be a better person or apologizing.” You don’t see that on social media a lot. We all want to be authentic, but not when it comes to saying, hey, I screwed up here. I was rude to a fan, or I was rude to my wife. 

I think I try to be authentic, but I also try to make my kind of guiding ethos apparent. If I do screw up something I just say I’m sorry, I screwed it up. I always do that with my kids, too. And so, a little parenting advice from me, because people always say, what’s it like being a parent? I always found kids are so forgiving and if I screw up, I just take my kids aside and say, I’m really sorry I acted like that. That’s not how dad is supposed to act and I’m sorry. And you know, you deserve better. I’ve found that my kids love that because you’re teaching them that everybody screws up, everybody deserves forgiveness and everybody should ask for forgiveness.

Skillet's John Copper Talks Faith and Family Vacations
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Speaking of family, what is a perfect family vacation for you?

Oh, man. We’re really boring. I think it’s because we travel for a living and my kids always travel with me because they grew up on the road. So, our perfect vacation was to go somewhere where we don’t have to leave. A cruise ship is actually a good place because you don’t have to go get in the car and make a reservation for dinner or whatever. Cruise ships are great or go to a beach where you can just sit. Even my kids, they don’t really want to go tour a city because they do that all the time because we’re on the road. So they’re like, can we just sit at a pool and read? 

How old are they now?

My daughter is in college; she’s 20. My son is 17. But they grew up on the road since they were babies, you know, so our perfect vacation, go to a beach, sit around, read.

Have you read any good books lately?

Oh, I read constantly. I mainly read political books and political philosophy. All the books that I love people probably wouldn’t really care about. Douglas Murray has a book called “The War on the West”, which I thought was a great, fantastic book for anybody that likes political commentary or social commentary. If my daughter was here, she’d give you a great list of fiction books. 

Skillet's John Copper Talks Faith and Family Vacations
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

What are your tips for family travel? 

I was lucky because both of my kids like to read so I didn’t have to constantly entertain them the whole time, which was nice, I would say. 

So, bring books.

Yes, bring books. And a great investment before everyone had cell phones were those DVD players that would go on the back of your car seat. The best $300 you could ever spend, to turn on The Avengers and everybody would be quiet for an hour. That was pretty good. 

What’s your favorite song to play off the new record, Dominion?

The song “Dominion” is quite fun to play because it’s so up tempo. It almost reminds me of like, Foo Fighters or something like that. You know, it’s easy to bang your head to. That’s pretty fun.

How do you guys stay in shape and keep the energy up on the road after all these years?

Well, let’s see. This is our 27th year for Skillet, which I cannot believe. It’s amazing anybody’s still listening, so thank you all out there. I think for me a lot of it was just my diet. I had to kind of learn, as everybody knows, when you’re 30, you can’t eat what you could when you were 20, and when you’re 40, you can’t eat what you did when you were 30. So, a lot of it for me just got down to like, okay, I can’t eat cookies for every meal.

Now they have all sorts of streaming things you can do for working out. But even when I had to carry a portable DVD player, I’d bring P90X, bring stuff on the road. You just have to work out outside the bus sometimes, if you don’t have dressing rooms. You have to work out wherever you can. Otherwise you get onstage and you just can’t do what you used to be able to do. Like, we played with Iron Maiden. How old is Iron Maiden now?

Bruce (Dickinson) is in his 60s. 

These guys are amazing. Bruce is amazing. You wouldn’t know he’s not 30. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

What’s in store for 2023?

We’re really busy this year, which I’m thankful for. I mean, I think the good news is, it seems, you know, we’re knocking on wood here, it seems like the world has opened up from COVID. Yeah, it seems like that’s not going to reverse course now. 

And so that’s really good news because we’re going to Europe. Europe is open now. When we went there last summer, it was just like, testing every two days. I was like, if I never put anything up my nose again for the rest of my life, I will be a happy man. 

After Europe, we have festivals here. It’s just a busy year because we’re supporting the new project. Thankfully, everybody in Skillet and our Skillet family of crew, their kids and wives, everybody is healthy and happy and made it through COVID. We’re very thankful for that and blessed. 

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Amy Harris
Amy Harris is a writer and photographer who has been traveling for 20 years and flown over 2 million miles to visit over 80 countries on 6 continents. She is a freelance photographer for Invision by Associated Press, AP Images and Rex/Shutterstock. Her work can be seen in various publications and websites including: Rolling Stone, AP Images, National Geographic Books, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Forbes.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guides, JetStar magazine, and Delta Sky Magazine.

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